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Virtual Reality Lab

The Virtual Reality Lab is equipped with 16 cameras that are part of a tracking system. About an equal number of speakers have been set up in a circle. During an experiment, test subjects will wear a backpack with a laptop in it and a head mounted display (HMD) on their head. The two displays of the HMD show each eye a different image, rendering it stereoscopic. Test subjects will enter a three-dimensional virtual world in which they can roam freely.

Special Software
By using the equipment, the so-called light emitting diodes (LEDs) on the HMD are turned on, which is 'spotted' by the cameras in the lab. A virtual reality experiment is controlled from the adjoining room by using special software. Because of the cameras, the laptop and the small LEDs, the tracking system can monitor the test subject's actions. In this way, the virtual world adjusts to the head motions and orientation of the person.
Finally, it is also possible for the test subject to wear a suit on which LEDs are attached in a similar fashion to the headgear. By means of the tracking system, the test subject is connected to an avatar in the virtual world, causing it to move exactly like the test subject. Today this technique is frequently used in making animation films and games.

Before research can be done in the Virtual Reality Lab, a virtual world needs to be created. This could be anything. For example, researcher Henna Toppenberg uses a virtual hospital in which test subjects perform tasks interacting with virtual patients. The lab can also host various forms of (social) psychological research. To this end, a combination of cameras and speakers can be used: for example having a car pass by on the screen and also hearing the audio of it through the speakers. As such, all the more 'perception' is attributed to the whole system.
For example, thanks to the system we can examine how people localise sound. Another possibility is to relate to physiological measurements. The displays could show a large bridge over a ravine over which the test subject should walk while the heart rate and the amount of sweating is measured.
Last modified: Fri, 07/10/2016 - 12:27

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